Weekly worship: Sunday 28 October
Points for sermons and prayers for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.
Aster with her children. She describes the Chali women's group as her 'other family' - they work together to support their households and their community.
Psalm 126 Jeremiah 31:7-9 Mark 10:46-52
I was once travelling in Senegal for Christian Aid. We had a long day, visiting several projects, and it was all a bit dispiriting. The rains had been poor, so in one place a vegetable plot had failed. The vehicle we were travelling in broke down, and it took a while, waiting in the sun, for it to be repaired. So it was not till about 11pm that we approached, exhausted, the village where we were to stay the night.
Whereupon a man in a Wee-Willie-Winkie hat greeted us. “You’re here at last – the party can begin.” And so it did, with dancing and singing, food and drink - even wrestling. It was one of the most joyful occasions of my life.
The Jeremiah passage for this Sunday is full of exaltation and excitement, with evil overturned. Exiles are coming home, and breaking into shouts of joy. A couple of verses earlier, they are taking up tambourines for the dance of the merrymakers. Weeping is turned to consolation. In Psalm 126, the Lord has restored the fortunes of Zion, “Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy.” “Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home carrying their sheaves” – with, once again, shouts of joy.
The procession is for everyone – a great company, including the blind and the lame, pregnant women and those in labour. So it is with Jesus, calling blind Bartimaeus. Blind people are to be included, whatever the crowd may think.
There is a lot of shouting in these passages. We hear the voice of the poor. Bartimaeus has to cry out, ever more loudly over the tut-tutting of the crowd, so that Jesus can hear him. When he does get to Jesus, Jesus does not just decide what Bartimaeus needs. He asks him: “What do you want me to do for you?” What do you want? We hear again the voice of the poor: “Let me see again.”
Christian Aid wants to hear – and to broadcast – the voice of the poor. It does not arrive from outside with ready-made answers, but supports local partner organisations. For our Harvest Appeal, there is a film you can download here which shows Aster and her women’s group in Ethiopia, using solar energy to start a viable business and lift themselves out of poverty. And they too break into dancing.
This week’s pointers have been provided by Paul Spray as part of a group of Methodist local preachers in the Oxford circuit.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the hope, resilience and joy amongst so many of those with whom Christian Aid works.
May we come to share joy, as we share resources,
remembering the feast that you call us all to.
Pointers for prayer
Emergencies: Continue to pray for Rohingya communities seeking refuge in Bangladesh: read an update to our response to their displacement from Myanmar.
Give thanks for the season of harvest and for the generosity of all who have given to Christian Aid’s harvest appeal. Praise God that the Money raised through our Harvest 2018 Appeal will be match funded by the European Union. Every £1 given is worth £5 for life-changing work in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Honduras and Malawi.
October is Black History Month. Give thanks for the contributions that African and Caribbean communities make to societies worldwide.
More points available from the Christian Aid prayer diary.